no room at the inn

Over the last few years, I’ve imposed a rule on myself. No more buying cookbooks. Even though I already have a cabinet overlflowing with my dog-eared, stew-stained favorites, when I’m looking for a recipe I find that I always go straight to my laptop. Where I get great recipes for free. Ignoring the thirty beloved books I already own.

Nevertheless, I love cookbooks.  So, I often get my fix by checking them out of the library. I read them in bed, and I sometimes pore over them at the family dinner table (where we have a no-laptop rule), bouncing menu ideas off my family. A few months ago, I borrowed The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook. After maxing out on renewals, I broke my rule. I bought a copy and and have been using it so often that I don’t even need to find space for it on the shelf.

What’s so great about this cookbook? Well, a lot. It boasts all of the expertise you would expect from a product of America’s Test Kitchen, but very little of the fussiness. Perhaps because the target audience is people with families, they’ve avoided including recipes requiring fourteen gadgets and six different techniques. These recipes are fairly simple, and we’ve yet to come across a bad one. I also love their recommendations for gadgets and ingredients. In fact, if you want to send me a present you’ll find that my Amazon wish list has been filled with items from the pages on this cookbook.

There are a lot of treif recipes. Some can be easily adapted, such as the Turkey Meatloaf, which I’m about to give you the recipe for. Others are over the top treif. Since this is a looseleaf style cookbook, you could actually pull the entire pork section and give it to, say, your brother. (Well, my brother, anyhow.)

Here’s what we had for Shabbat dinner. Thanks to America’s Test Kitchen for permission to reprint one recipe:

Turkey Meatloaf with Brown Sugar-Ketchup Glaze

1 teaspoon canola oil

1 medium onion, minced

2 medium garlic cloves,

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves

1½ slices high-quality whole wheat sandwich bread, crusts removed, torn into small pieces

½ cup whole milk (I used pareve soy milk)

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

¼ cup minced fresh parsley leaves

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

¼ teaspoon hot sauce

salt and pepper

2 pounds ground turkey (not gorund turkey breast)

½ cup ketchup

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

4 teaspoons cider vinegar

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Fold a piece of heavy-duty foil into a 10 by 6-inch rectangle, place it the center of a wire rack, and use a skewer to poke holes in the foil every ½ inch. Place the wire rack on top of a roil-lined baking sheet and spray with vegetable oil spray.

2. Heat the oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl to cool.

3. In a large bowl, mash the bread and milk together into a smooth paste. Stir in the cooled onion mixtures, eggs, parsley, mustard, Worcestershire, hot sauce, ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper until combined. Add the ground turkey and mix with your hands until uniform.

4. Press the mixture together in a compact mass, the turn it out onto the prepared foil on the wire rack. Press the meat to the edges of the foil and into a tidy 2-inch-thick loaf.

5. Stir the ketchup, sugar and vinegar together, then brush half the mixture evenly over the meatloaf. Bake the meatloaf for 45 minutes.

6. Brush the meatloaf with the remaining ketchup glaze, and continue to bake until the center of the loaf registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 15 to 20 minutes longer. Cool at least 20 minutes before slicing into 1 ¼ inch pieces.

To make ahead, prepare through step 4, covered loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerated for up to 6 hours. Bake as directed, increasing the baking time in step 5 to 1 hour 20 minutes.

Serves 8.

A few other favorites, thus far, are the vegetarian version of the Pad Thai, the Lentil Soup and the Skillet-Roasted Carrots and Parsnips. This week I’ll be testing the vegetarian chili.

Please share – what cookbooks do you turn to over and over again?

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